What is the difference between the bus and the airplane? Taking the plane gets you to your destination and whole lot quicker, but you still have issues with cost and checked baggage. Bus trips take longer and it is a bit harder to sleep, yet the scenery can make up for some of that. Well, the Sluggers are looking at the bus trip right now, and it will be a long ride. Last nights match against San Francisco was a detour out of the airport.
There was something amiss with the match even before it started. It was scheduled to take place on Monday, but was postponed. Then the pairings on the top two boards abruptly changed as Patrick Wolff and Gregory Serper were pulled from the lineups.
This turned out to be a push, at least on paper. Really this turned out to be an excellent swap for the Mechanics. Nakamura seems to have some kind of vexation with Bhat and it worked to the Mechanics advantage as Bhat won a fine game. On second board Mikhailuk faced Donaldson with the former wearing the older player down. The top two boards were thus a split. I certainly don’t think that Seattle would have done better with Serper on second board, a win there is a win. I am perplexed though considering the consequences of Wolff playing Nakamura and Serper, with White, against Bhat? Is it possible that not playing a GM helped the Mechanics?
Board 3 was for me the most interesting game. I think that Readey equalized with the Black pieces and even missed more in the middlegame. At move 35 I think that Ne3 by Readey might have born fruit. White can’t allow Nc2, so must oppose on the c-file. With one pair of rooks off the Ne3 goes to f5 to remind White of the h4 pawn, combined with the Bg7 I feel Black will have plenty of chances to gain a full point. Andy May on board four appeared to just be outplayed from the opening. To me this appears to be another example of “team” play. Nakamura had been a rock for the Sluggers, but when his game went astray the other players were left to fight for better scores.
After losing to the Mechanics 3-1 last night the Sluggers have virtually no chance of winning the division. They still have good chances of making the playoffs with the last 3 matches against the teams below them in the West. Now all there matches are “playoff” scenarios. For the Sluggers to get to the Finals they will have to win the rest of the regular season and then likely face the top 2 teams in the conference playoffs, likely Dallas and SF again. This is not going to be an easy trip, but I did see a lot of fight in the Sluggers last night and that is a good step for them.